By Amy Walker
We are at a crossroads.
Faced with the current devastating effects and future calamity of climate change, people are shifting their patterns of consumption and energy use, though admittedly not fast enough. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, if our emissions remain at current levels, the Earth’s atmosphere will reach its capacity for carbon dioxide (450 parts per million of carbon) within eight years. On Aug 8, 2009 the New York Times published a story entitled, "Climate Change Seen as Threat to U.S. Security". If the US and Canada were to take their military defence budgets, brain trusts and muscle and turn them on the problem of climate change, we might stand a chance of mitigating its effects. Maybe.
We have the knowledge and tools to provide for the well-being of all people, and to reduce our destructive impact on the earth. But our fate rests on the choices we make as consumers and as nations. What we need now is wisdom. To change our direction and live lightly on the earth requires a shift in consciousness. It also requires relinquishing some of the conveniences and luxuries which we have so aggressively promoted throughout the last century, which have provided wealth for the few and are the cause of our environmental damage. We will not abandon technology, nor should we, but we can change our relationship to it and use it in more responsible ways.
Wikipedia defines Appropriate Technology as: "… technology that is designed with special consideration to the environmental, ethical, cultural, social and economical aspects of the community it is intended for. With these goals in mind, Appropriate Technology requires fewer resources, is easier to maintain, has a lower overall cost and less of an impact on the environment compared to industrialized practices."
The bicycle is a form of technology that is appropriate and accessible for people all over the world. Bikes – and pedal power – are great tools for the future. What other forms of technology will we bring with us? How do we decide whether a tool or technology is appropriate and sustainable? And how will we make household, business and legal decisions to reflect this? We certainly don’t have all the answers, but like you, we are asking these questions – and we are optimistic in our search for solutions.
In this issue we visit Philadelphia, where cyclists face familiar challenges, such as bike theft and road rage, but also enjoy the advantages of flat terrain, bike-able streets, trails and a colorful, creative cycling culture. We learn that wide avenues, advocacy efforts and fashion shows are encouraging ridership in Salt Lake City. We look at the new line of Globe bikes from Specialized for everyday riding, and the Portland-designed Joe Bike for hauling cargo. Plus we have included some fashionable photos of our own. As a way of introducing everyday cycling to the mainstream, looking good on two wheels has never been more appropriate.